“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” –1 Cor. 13:8-13
In case you were unaware, I am both I.T. Director and Disaster Planning/Recovery Director for SeniorAge. In the latter role, while already quite experienced in the field, I have learned a whole bunch the last 6 months…as have all of us. I have personally sat through at least a couple hundred meetings in this role including Greene County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD), similar state and national organizations, and a dozen other small groups holding meetings. I watch the health department press conferences and, unfortunately, watch comments below while watching. I study DHS, HHS, CDC, and even occasionally WHO materials. I read everything from journal info to even basic materials from WebMD. I rub elbows with hundreds of folks on a daily basis who are even more prepared that I am…and with more between the ears too… Can I please share a few things about COVID-19 response from an apolitical, but diversely-studied cornbread blogger?
- First, regardless what talk shows may say, this isn’t a hoax. I can’t believe I have to say this, but, heck, we have to remind people that the Earth is round…soooo, there’s that. I know people that have been hospitalized. I know people whose loved ones have died. Some younger and some older… It is real.
- Second, this spreads by droplets (primarily). Wearing a good mask, while imperfect, does “work” in a high percentage of the time. A co-worker’s husband was one of the dozens and dozens that made national news who got their hair cut by a stylist who was masked but infected. He was also masked. None were infected by the stylist. Zero. N95 masks do seem to work better if used and cleaned correctly.
- There are a limited number of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) available. The world’s demand is strong….very strong. Obviously, those treating patients have to have this first and foremost before the rest are considered.
- It stinks that nursing homes are closed to the public. I HATE that I cannot go see mom as often as I used to. It stinks. She is end-stage. Every day is a visit missed. Every day.
- Depending on the statistician and location, between 25-80% of those dying of COVID-19 are seniors, many of whom are the ones in nursing homes. I am uncomfortable giving you the number, but it is safe to say, in many cases, the majority are. This is partly because many, many have DNR/advanced directives orders that preclude using a ventilator.
- It spreads quickly in groups and where hygiene isn’t perfect.
- Herd immunity may eventually slow or stop the spread.
- Vaccines may soon be available. Russia claims to have one and the US has many in the works. Reliable? Who knows??? They are being developed quite quickly. I do vaccinate my kids and sometimes take the flu vaccine. I am not anti-vaccination…but I am hesitant to be sure. I am not a guinea pig, nor the son of one.
- Isolation kills. It is terrible for someone with dementia to not have loved ones there to help. I have written to this many, many times and the KY3 link interview below alludes to this too.
- Every life is equally valuable.
For our consideration here (as a dementia blog), remember that nursing homes have added idiosyncrasies/challenges. In order for them to open, the obstacles are Herculean:
- To move to that wide-open phase of reopening and have it work perfectly with zero spread:
- 1. Every employee must be tested before working every day by a rapid-results system, which are, obviously, in very short supply and are regulated. And it seems that rapid testing is likely less accurate than traditional means.
- 2. Every patient must also pass.
- 3. Employees and visitors must all be clean of the virus every day and all tests must be accurate.
- 4. Every item coming into the nursing home that could be handled by someone with the illness would need to be rejected or cleaned or quarantined in a room for long enough for it to no longer be a threat. That time frame is uncertain, but it is likely days.
- There must be enough PPE and tests. Who cares about toilet paper…running out of these would be worse.
- Everyone has to be honest. Nobody come in when exposed to an unmasked person. LOL…been to WalMart? Folks take off their masks and/or leave their nose or mouth out of the mask. Not to mention bars and other large gatherings.
OK…we have now seen that opening a nursing home by stopping it this way is not possible. Tooooo many variables. Therefore, we have a Catch-22 on our hands. If you disagree, please reconsider. Who is it ok that dies? Who in a nursing home is it ok that dies? Is it ok for mom or the Sweet 17…I mean, they lived long lives? It is easier if you don’t have a loved one under the chopping block, huh?
So our catch-22 answer: The happy medium we live under now until treatments, vaccines, or the herd immunity fix this mess. What other option is there? What did I miss? (I may have…but I doubt I missed much here…) Please comment below.
In the meantime…while we answer the unanswerable, join me in fighting to #EndALZ . Mom is only in her mid-70s! She should be travelling the world…or at least watching travel on TV with us while she waits! The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is different this year, but will still be great. Donate and/or “walk” with our team. We will all be walking outdoors somewhere…details will come soon. All separately, with masks and not in a crowd, but walking nevertheless. Donate or volunteer at SeniorAge or another Area Agency on Aging. Everywhere has them. Help wherever you can, but be careful doing so.
Do I have all of the answers? Nope. I have sure sat through more training than 99% out there…I am not too far off. Let’s do our best as we fight these dual messes.
Thanks…rant over for today. 😉
Update: Not much to say. I still have a few more days until my next visit. I miss mom and the rest. 🙁
Dad joke of the day:
I know a friend who doesn’t use hand sanitizer because it only kills 99.9% of the germs.
I don’t get it. Get two squirts, and it kills 199.8% of germs.
and a bonus:
A Germ walks into a bar. The bartender notices and says,”Hey your a germ! Your not allowed in here!” . “But I work here,” says the germ,” I’m staph.”
Thank you KY3 for this coverage of the challenges. I hope some were helped. 🙂
Last note: My employer does the programs for the senior centers throughout our counties in Missouri. We have many of the same problems with them as they are also closed to the public. We are providing hundreds of thousands of meals via drive-thru and delivery in the meantime, but we sure miss our folks. We will reopen as soon as it is safe for staff and for our seniors…and not a moment later. That sweet day can’t get here fast enough…but for now we wait and pray and stay educated on the issues.